Hope came the way of awaiting trial inmates in various Prisons across Nigeria recently following Federal Executive Council’s (FEC) approval of N2.8 billion Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) digitalisation funds.
The approval is expected to add spark to the process of decongesting Prisons across the country through a process of digitalisation of inmates’ records.
The development will enable the Prisons’ authorities track records of attendance of the inmates in courts as well as next adjourned dates of hearing of their respective cases.
Spokesman for the Service, Francis Enobore, made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay, in Abuja.
It would be recalled that the FEC recently approved N2.8 billion for the digitalisation of the Prisons system in the country.
This is coming in the face of the rising inmates’ population, which currently stands at 76,000.
A breakdown of the number shows that, Awaiting Trial inmates are about 50,000, while the figure of those convicted is about 26,000.
According to Enobore, the Service was only implementing an aspect of the whole digitalisation project, which is to be implemented by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
“The Federal Government is intending to carry out that project under the auspices of the attorney general of the federation,” he said.
He noted however that the one that the Nigeria Prisons Service carried out was the Prisons Information Management System (PIMS), explaining that the component of the PIMS was to digitalise the record keeping for the inmates including their court attendance.
“The essence is to ensure that cases are given speedy hearing. With the introduction of PIMS, we are able to monitor court attendance, know why cases are adjourned, do a follow-up and know where there are gaps. In addition to that, it will enable us keep permanent record of anybody that has ever been to the Prison,” he explained.
When BusinessDay asked for further clarification on the project, against the backdrop of fear of duplication, the Prisons’ spokesman noted thus: “No, they are not going to do the same kind of jobs. The one approved by FEC is under the auspices of the attorney general of the federation.
Of course, you know justice process involves those that have the arresting power, those that prosecute, and those that pronounce judgement and those of us that keep those that are sent to us.
“The triangular movement of individuals that are passing through the course of justice will have each of the custodians of the tripod having specific role to play. The prisons will keep those arrested.”
Meanwhile, Enobore has said that the presidential pardon granted inmates in 2018, was a demonstration of government’s determination to see the decongestion project through.
According to Enobore, “3,612 where granted pardon from different Prisons formation for 2018. Earlier this year, the presidential committee on Prisons Reform and Decongestion visited Edo and Delta states and freed 43 prisoners from Delta and 76 from Edo.
“And if you add that figure with what was released last year and this year so far it will give you 3731.”